Title

Estuarine modification of nutrient and sediment exports to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from the Daintree and Annan River catchments

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Davies, PL & Eyre, BD 2005, 'Estuarine modification of nutrient and sediment exports to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from the Daintree and Annan River catchments', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 1-4, pp. 174-185.

Marine Pollution Bulletin journal home page available at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/marpolbul

Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2004.11.008

Abstract

Nutrient and suspended sediment concentrations were measured in the dry season and during the rising and falling stages of flood events in the Annan and Daintree rivers to estimate catchment exports. These flood events were also sampled along the salinity gradient in the estuary and nearshore shelf to quantify the modification of terrestrial sediment and nutrient loads as they pass through estuaries into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. In the Daintree River TSS concentrations were found to increase between the catchment and the estuary plume. The source of TSS may have been scour of the estuarine channel or from land use in the catchment of the lower estuary. In the dry season nitrogen enters the Annan and Daintree estuaries predominantly in the form of PON and DON in roughly equal proportions. Nitrogen exports to the GBR are mostly in the form of DON. In the wet season the majority of nitrogen enters the estuaries as DON and leaves as PON. Nitrogen removal in the estuaries and plumes appears to be biologically mediated once suspended sediment concentrations decrease to a point where phytoplankton growth is not light limited. In the dry season phosphorus enters and leaves the estuaries primarily in organic form. PIP is the dominant form of phosphorus in river water, but leaves the estuary more evenly distributed between all forms. These estuarine processes result in less nitrogen and phosphorus being delivered to the GBR lagoon than is exported from the catchment. The differences between these estuaries highlights the need for further work to explore modifications in estuaries that drain into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.